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Revisiting Books from Apex Book Company

The Wicked by James Newman (Sadie Hartmann review 2017)
Without going into the plot too much, I will say that Newman took a classic horror trope, "Dreamy, beautiful, small town on the surface--new family moves in--all demonic hell breaks loose" and he wrote a damn good book.
The characters were fully fleshed out, nobody was introduced that I didn't care about on some level. Our main family, Kate & David felt very *real* to me, which made things super risky. I grew protective of this family. The neighbor, George Heatherly, loved him. Joel and Michael. The sheriff, truly--Newman writes characters that you relate to and invest in.
And then there's the evil. The threat. The bearded one. Moloch. SO TERRIFYING! I got the heebie-jebbie creep outs several times!
This book has short, vignette style chapters that have our family/protagonist narrative as well as narratives that feel like secret showings between author and reader--things we get to see that the characters do not and that was so SCARY! I can't even tell you how compelling that style of narrative is! The pace is perfect. It's unputdownable.
Often times I found myself speaking out to the book, "NO! No! Pleeeeeeasse! Not THAT!!"
Then on Friday night, I had the house to myself and I was able to binge read over 200 pages while I ate my dinner and listened to the rain outside and it was just perfect!
I loved the build and all the gross, creepy, sexual stuff that happened leading up to Part 2 and beyond. To be honest: I wasn't sure I even wanted to read Part 3, I was that scared. I felt like really bad stuff was going to happen but this is where the book takes off running. I loved the ending and the epilogue and the authors notes and the bonus story. I loved it all. This is my second favorite horror book that I read this season. I highly, highly recommend it but just know: It's gory and pulls no punches. Trigger warnings galore and for the serious horror enthusiast (in my opinion) READ IT!
Everything That's Underneath- Kristi DeMeester (Sadie Hartmann review 2017)
I read Kristi DeMeester's book Beneath earlier this year and I was so impressed! I was eager to read something else so I jumped at the opportunity to read this collection of short stories.
I kept a journal by my bed and recorded some reoccurring themes, words and moods that are threaded throughout this collection as a whole entity and then I will highlight some of my favorite stories.
Here are some words that describe the kind of terror Kristi builds:
Organic, raw, visceral, earthen, tangible, threatening.
Elemental, biological, familial.
Something about these stories reminds me of hidden, organic terrors growing right under our beds or the floorboards of our houses--like evil mushrooms or spores. I can't really explain it and I wish I was a wordsmith like the author so I could really dig in and push the images in your face so that you'd understand what I experienced with this book.
Each story brings diversity to the author's book of skills. I believe she could literally explore *any* topic, no matter how mundane or simplistic and craft it into something that sinks into the marrow of your bones to unsettle you at a core level.
Some of the stand out horrors in this book were:
The title story, Everything That's Underneath
The Beautiful Nature of Venom (because I have a very real phobia)
Worship Only What She Bleeds
The Marking
Daughters of Hecate (scared me to DEATH last night!!!)
And the last four stories were all stand outs-all favorites.
There are themes of loss, themes of Mothers & Daughters, generational dysfunction or "curses", themes of love, even toxic love, femininity, sexuality, blood...I could go on and on, the words on the pages have been literally sewn into my mind's reserve. The things that scare Kristi DeMeester, the things she thinks about, are now the same things that effect me. This book opens new doors of fear.
You need it
Greener Pastures- Michael Wehunt (Sadie Hartmann review 2017)
It's official! I love, love these collections of stories from one author, especially if they fall inside the horror genre. I've read quite a few this year and this one is a standout among them.
I believe this is Wehunt's debut collection, so for a fresh out of the gate offering, I'm very impressed. Michael Wehunt will be one to watch.
Some highlights of the collection for me was reading a story that got under my skin titled, "Greener Pastures" and then transitioning into a story that had me crying in just a few pages, "A Discreet Music".
This happened again when I read, "October Film Haunt: Under the House" which I think is the most unnerving story in whole collection and then on its heels was, "Deducted From Your Share in Paradise", at the end of this one, I was in tears again.
I think the most notable thing here is Michael Wehunt's writing. It's very uniquely his own. His narrator voice can manage to be subtly different for each story but at the same time, strikingly similar as nobody writes like he does. I appreciate this as I navigate the genre of horror and find that sometimes, writing styles blend together and it's difficult to pull out what makes a writer's voice distinct. In this case, it's Wehunt's selection of words, the pacing of his stories, the way he describes something and shows us, the readers, in vibrant detail what we're looking at--other times it's almost a secret language and we're on the outside looking in on something that perhaps, we're not going to fully understand--like poetry.
I enjoyed that there were some author's notes on each story at the end. I read them all and enjoyed getting a behind-the-scenes look at the inspiration for each story--how it was born. That was very cool. Overall, I am recommending this book for readers of horror that enjoy short story collections. This is one you'll likely visit more than once. I will.
**Visit Apex Book Company to find more awesome titles and take advantage of their 20% sale for the month of September. FREE shipping in the US for orders over $25

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